In 2005, I went to the American Library Association annual conference, which was held in Chicago that year. A guy named Barack Obama had just been elected as the junior senator from Illinois, and he was the keynote speaker on the opening night of the convention.
The camera I had at the time really sort of sucked, so my pictures aren't great, but I have to tell you that this was an amazing night. Obama's speech -- which was mostly about libraries and education and the like, given the venue -- was amazing and very well-received, and the line for his booksigning that followed was incredibly long. But I waited and waited, and it was worth it.
Despite the hundreds of people in the line, Senator Obama was incredibly gracious and took the time to shake hands and speak with people -- very different from many other book signings I've been to, which are often really very impersonal, get-as-many-people-through-the-line-as-possible events. Here I am, complete with stringy hair and unflattering brown top (it was EXCEPTIONALLY hot in Chicago that week!), meeting the senator.
And now, I am just so, so happy that President Obama will always be the first president whose hand I was lucky enough to shake -- even if he wasn't president yet. :-)
More than anything else, I feel incredibly proud and happy that my children will be born into an America where a black man can be the president, and I'm hopeful that maybe by the time they are able to vote, we'll have done away with the labels entirely and won't find it necessary to refer to "the black candidate" or "the woman candidate".
I leave you from some pictures from the primary season. The night before the Super Tuesday primaries, Obama had a rally at the Hartford Civic Center. I wasn't able to go because of work, but Jim, armed with a telephoto lens, managed to elbow his way down onto the floor, just yards from the platform where Obama, Senator Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, and Connecticut's Democratic members of Congress were speaking. You can see his entire album from the event here.